Calm QB Ben Kocis leads Huntington from deficit to Suffolk III championship
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With the wind whipping and the snow sticking to the field, it was a mess at the beginning of the Suffolk III championship game between Huntington and Sayville Saturday night at Stony Brook University.
But despite tough elements and a tougher start, Huntington overcame early turnovers and scored 20 second-quarter points in a 26-18 victory that produced its first county football championship since 2005.
Quarterback Ben Kocis, who was 4-for-9 passing for 120 yards to go with 80 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, was a big reason the Blue Devils were able to overcome a 12-0 deficit.
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"We always talk about legacies and leaving your mark," Kocis said. "And we definitely did leave our mark."
With Huntington down 12-0 early in the first quarter, it was Kocis who made the big plays and led the comeback.
First he capped an eight-play, 50-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The key play was a 31-yard pass from Kocis to running back Levar Butts that set up a first-and-goal at the 8-yard line.
Huntington forced Sayville into a three-and-out on its next possession and followed with a nine-play, 58-yard touchdown drive capped by a 21-yard scramble by Kocis that put Huntington up 13-12.
Kocis avoided the pass rush by spinning to his left and getting outside the pocket. He continued around the left end, running through a tackle attempt and squeezing into the end zone just inside the pylon. The Blue Devils never trailed after that.
"That was a designated play to sprint out to the right," Kocis said. "When I saw the blitz coming, I knew it wasn't going to be there so I just evaded the defender and I saw an opening and I took it."
After Huntington went ahead, Sayville made two key mistakes. Freshman quarterback Jack Coan was picked off by Keegan Reilly to set up the Blue Devils at their 37. Huntington could not sustain a drive, but the ensuing punt hit off a Sayville player and the ball was recovered by the Blue Devils at Sayville's 32-yard line.
Troy Greene, who had 49 yards on the ground, finished off that drive with a 6-yard touchdown scamper to put Huntington ahead 20-12.
Coan hit Matt Hewson for a 16-yard score that pulled Sayville to within 20-18 late in the third quarter, and it stayed that way until Butts scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter. Butts finished with 72 yards on the ground.
Both defenses held until Huntington's Infinite Tucker sealed the game with an interception in the end zone with two minutes remaining.
Two fumbles in the first quarter gave Sayville good field position, and the Golden Flashes capitalized on both.
Coan threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Murphy after the first turnover and hit Hewson with a 13-yard strike to give Sayville a 12-0 lead just eight minutes into the game.
"We didn't get down though whatsoever," Kocis said. "That's just the type of team we are -- we keep fighting until the end."